For the first time in 45 years, and just the second time since 1947, a Liberal will represent Kelowna-Lake Country in Parliament in Ottawa.
Rookie candidate Stephen Fuhr pulled off a stunning upset Monday night to defeat nine-year incumbent Conservative Ron Cannan and take the riding for the Liberals, part of a massive cross-country landslide that saw the Grits win a majority of seats in Parliament for the first time in more than a decade.
At the dissolution of Parliament in August, the Liberals were the third-place party in in the House of Commons with just 36 seats. As of press deadline Monday night, the party had candidates elected or leading in 184 ridings. The magic number for a majority government is 170 seats. The Conservatives had candidates elected or leading in 101 ridings, the NDP elected or leading in 43 ridings, the Bloc Quebecois elected or leading in 10 ridings and the Greens elected in one riding.
“This riding hasn’t been the colour red (the colour used by the Liberals) since 1969,” Fuhr told a large, cheering crowd who packed into a downtown Kelowna restaurant Monday night.
But he added, as a Liberal candidate supported by local Greens and as the man who will represent the entire constituency, “Now there’s no colour to this riding.”
He said he felt “blessed” and thankful to the voters of Kelowna-Lake Country.
“This was the biggest example of working together and cooperation that I have ever seen, said the 47-year-old retired Canadian Air Force major.
Fuhr said while he never thought winning would be a “slam dunk,” he began to feel his campaign gaining traction with voters in the last few days.
Fuhr was one of the first Liberal candidates nominated for this election in Canada, winning the nomination in June 2014.
During the 11-week campaign, he said he and his team knocked on 11,000 doors throughout the riding and made more than 2,000 phone calls.
Going to Ottawa as part of a majority Liberal government made Fuhr’s win all the sweeter for the first-time politician.
Speaking to his supporters as television monitors in the background broadcast images of party leader and prime minister designate Justin Trudeau giving his own acceptance speech, Fuhr’s first words when he reached the podium were a direct hit at the outgoing prime minister: “And Stephen Harper is gone.”
That brought a huge cheer from the crowd, who had just watched as Harper, the Conservative leader delivered his concession speech in Calgary, accepting defeat of his party.
While Harper retained his own seat, news stations across the country were reporting he will resign as Conservative leader in the wake of the Tories defeat after nearly 10 years in power.
Initial numbers in Kelowna-Lake Country had Fuhr taking 46.6 per cent of the vote (26,425 votes) to Cannan’s 39.4 per cent (22,338 votes) and the NDP’s Norah Bowman 13.9 per cent (7,888 votes) with about three quarters of the 269 polls in the riding reporting.